The town of Baras is often credited with making Catanduanes famous. The municipality’s Puraran Beach was discovered by an Australian as a surfing destination in 1984, eventually helping place Catanduanes province on the tourism radar. Baras, however has more to offer besides golden sand beaches and perfect barrel waves. Just three years ago, word started to leak out about a location along the coast that featured green rolling hills, rocky coastal cliffs and stunning views of the Pacific. It took decades after Puraran’s “discovery” but Baras’ Binurong Point had finally crept into the limelight.
Riding a trike all the way from Virac and past Baras town proper, we detoured off the main highway and into a partially paved road towards the jump-off point for the trek to Binurong Point at Barangay Guinsaanan. It is mandatory to get guides here and we were soon on the way to the hills with Edna, our local guide.
Our initial trek was through large rocks hugging the coast. It was still high tide when we started off and we had to cross a tilting bamboo bridge that ran over a creek (raging currents have recently caused it to tilt to one side). Then it was over some slightly slippery boulders. Fortunately we were wearing athletic shoes instead of flip flops; we were soon beginning the ascent through hilly and forested terrain.
We were already huffing and puffing before we even reached the halfway point of the trek to Binurong Point. It was then that we realized how out of shape we were; it had been quite a while since we’ve gone on a long hike during a trip. And this trek was supposed to be just 20 minutes long! At least that’s what our 50-year old, fit-as-a-fiddle, guide Edna told us.
After brief pauses to catch our breath inside the forested trail, we were soon out in the open and gazing at the jaw-dropping sight of gently rolling hills of green back dropped by the deep blue of the Pacific.
At the point where the hills drop into the sea are jagged rock cliffs washed with the white froth of the Pacific waves. Boulders were also scattered about on the green hills; these uncannily became shelters when the morning sun began to get hot. There are practically no trees at all in Binurong Point but the whole area was awash in green.
Edna mentioned that there are actually four viewing points at Binurong. We got into the first two including one where we had to trek down a narrow trail along a ridgeline. There are no guard rails to protect visitors from slipping down the treacherous slope so we had to be extra careful. But when confronted with scenic views such as this you tend to throw caution to the winds.
It was getting close to noon by the time we got back up from the second viewing point. After conferring with Edna, we decided it was too hot and too tiring to trek to the other two viewpoints. A group of youngsters started hiking the trail to one, got as far as a pond in the depression among a group of boulders, then started going back.
Our trek back was much easier not only because it was downhill for the most part but also because low tide had crept in and allowed us to just walk on the now dry sandy shore along the coast instead of negotiating the slippery rocks at the start of our hike.
How to Get There and Other Tips
There are jeepneys near the port area in downtown Virac that make the trip to Baras (roughly one hour travel time). Then from Baras you can get a trike to drive you to Binurong and Puraran Beach. However, the number of jeepneys are limited and they usually wait until filled to the brim before heading out. This means you might have to wait for an hour or even longer. This is an important factor to consider as it is best to arrive and Binurong Point early. The sun can get quite hot from past 9AM to 3PM. Also take note that on Sundays there are no jeepneys in Baras that will make the return trip to Virac. On weekdays the last jeepney ride back to Virac usually leaves at 5PM. It’s also possible to ride the van to Gigmoto and to ask the driver to drop you off at Baras.
Since we couldn’t afford to wait too long for the jeepney or van to leave Virac for Baras – we wanted to be at Binurong Point early – we decided to take a tricycle (which is more expensive). Trikes seem to be the main mode of transportation in Catanduanes, anyway, and we ended up getting one to take us to Binurong Point and Puraran Beach and also to drop by the Bato Church and Maribina Falls on the way back to Virac.
If you’re staying at a resort in Virac the resort people would usually help you to get a trike. We got ours for P1,500. The main highway and part of the road to Binurong Point is fully concreted. The final quarter of the distance from the main highway to Binurong Point is still unpaved, however, and is a bit rough. Make sure the trike you are renting is in good shape.
We had agreed with our trike drivers to include Balacay Point (just a relatively short distance away from Puraran Beach) in our itinerary but later they told us that locals at Binurong Point said the road to Balacay is in really bad shape. (Our 2 trike drivers have never been to Balacay.) Our trike was not in the best shape and we even had to get off at various times on steep slopes so that the trike could make it. Looking at Google Earth later, though, we found out that the road to Balacay Point is paved (we doubt however if our trike could have negotiated the incline which seems steeper than the road to Binurong Point.) So if you’re going to Puraran Beach we suggest you include Balacay Point in your itinerary. It offers a grand view of Puraran Beach and the Pacific coast of Baras.
At Binurong Point it is compulsory to get a guide. Their rates are not really fixed but the minimum is P250 for a small group. Most of the guides are women who took on the task to help supplement their family earnings with their husbands doing normal day jobs. There is an entrance fee of P25 per person. There are also stores at the jump-off point where you can get water and sports drinks for the hike.